Siteny Randrianasolo-Niaiko was elected President of the African Judo Union on 18th May in Dakar, but he did not officially take office until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Present in the Japanese capital, we met and asked him to tell us about his impressions of the Games and the projects he wanted to develop and implement in the years to come.
AJU President Siteny Randrianasolo-Niaiko presenting flowers to Clarisse Agbegnenou (FRA) during the -63kg awarding ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

"It was the first time that I attended an Olympic Games as President-elect of the African Judo Union. It is a new responsibility and it is important. From the day after the Games we will get down to work, even if we have been moving forward for months and preparing for the future.

I would like to congratulate all the African athletes who took part in this exceptional event and who carried the banner of their country and our continent as high as possible. I know that the last few years and months, especially with the pandemic, have been difficult and I am proud of our athletes.

We must nevertheless make the honest and lucid observation that these were not good Games in terms of medals for Africa, even if I repeat that the commitment was total. I saw African athletes who climbed the tatami without fear and who fought with all their weapons. Yet vis-à-vis many countries, we still have some way to go to join the elite and especially to glean medals.

On the basis of this observation, our first mission will therefore consist of finding solutions so that our continent is in its true place and recognised at its true value in the world of judo, because I am convinced that our potential is great.

Siteny Randrianasolo-Niaiko, AJU President (left) and Mohamed Meridja, AJU First Vice-President during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

We will now work to strengthen the level and participation and create a real 'Team Africa.’ Many African countries do not have an adequate budget. Our athletes participate in very high level competitions and despite all the heart they put into it, they only spend a few minutes on the tatami. We are going to multiply training camps. We must find the right path and for that we must develop the African spirit, the spirit of union. Our athletes must go to competitions where they can perform well and gradually climb the ladder of the world hierarchy.

This will involve the creation of a zoning of our competitions in order to allow as many athletes as possible to get experience. We see today that North Africa is more efficient than southern Africa. We are therefore going to create north, south, east and west zones, to develop opportunities to improve and to aspire, collectively.

At the moment we are very dependent on the support of the IJF, whom I would like to thank with all my heart. Thanks to President Vizer and his team, we are making progress. We must now find our own resources to go further, higher, stronger.

This concerns high-level sport, but we will also strengthen our capacities in the educational field. Thus more than 50% of our resources will have to be dedicated to development, through Judo in Schools or Judo for Peace projects, for example.

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, -66 kg, ROUND 1 SLO GOMBOC vs ZAM MUNGANDU

We have a lot of work ahead of us and we have great hope for the whole continent. It is with a united approach that we will get there.

When I look at Japanese domination in these Olympics, I tell myself that we must and can be inspired by what they are doing. They have great discipline. It is an example to follow.

I cannot finish without once again warmly thanking the International Judo Federation and its President Mr Marius Vizer, especially after the months of pandemic that we have just passed through. We always felt protected. What happened on the last day with the incredible team competition is a perfect example of this feeling of belonging to an incredibly close-knit and deeply human world team that we have."

President Siteny Randrianasolo-Niaiko left Tokyo, the cursor of hope pointed at maximum. In the coming weeks, gradually the development policy of the African Judo Union will be put in place and there is no doubt that the first results will be felt soon.

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